Even after the Biden administration injected $150 million into the organization, the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees continues to incite violence against Jews, and armed militants use its facilities, according to a non-public State Department report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The State Department cited the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)—which has a history of promoting violence against Jews and allowing its sites to be used by Hamas terrorists to store weapons and recruit children—with hundreds of infractions over the last year involving “armed incursions,” “the use of weapons in or near facilities,” and the construction of at least two tunnels under its schools that enabled terrorists to move weapons and personnel, according to an unclassified version of a congressional report.
Of the $150 million in taxpayer funding that went to UNRWA, which was meant to help the organization implement reforms and crack down on anti-Israel bias, $9.8 million was meant to bolster its security apparatus, yet the organization “identified 1,142 unique issues at 556 installations during the inspections” throughout 2021, according to the report. Although multiple safeguards are reportedly in place to stop UNRWA facilities from being used by militants, at least “298 security and conflict-related incidents with neutrality implications occurred in 2021 and resulted in multiple injuries and damage to UNRWA property.”
Shortly after taking office in 2021, the Biden administration resumed $150 million in U.S. funding to UNRWA, which serves as the primary educational and aid organization to Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. Millions of dollars in U.S. funding were pushed through over the objection of Republican lawmakers, who cited UNRWA’s promotion of anti-Israel materials in its schools and connections to terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The State Department report illustrates that these concerns are well-founded.
While these infractions breach funding guidelines set by the United States, the State Department determined that UNRWA lives up to its commitments to implement organization-wide reforms. A State Department spokesman declined to explain to the Free Beacon how the administration reached this determination after uncovering hundreds of what they call “violations of UNRWA’s neutrality policies.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has pushed to cut U.S. funding to UNRWA, told the Free Beacon the Biden administration is turning a blind eye to UNRWA’s bad behavior.
“UNRWA is a hopelessly anti-Semitic and terrorist-enabling organization,” Cruz said. “The Biden administration rejoined the organization anyway and promised to reform it. Now the numbers are in, and it is absolutely undeniable that they failed.”
“Of course,” Cruz said, “they’re trying to deny the failure and continue funding UNRWA anyway, because they are committed to undermining Israel and elevating its enemies. It is well past time for the United States to withdraw its support from this broken organization.”
UNRWA officials have said for years that they do not receive enough funding. The United States is its top funder. The Trump administration pulled U.S. funding from the organization due to its use of anti-Israel teaching materials and ties to terrorist organizations.
UNRWA facilities have been used by Hamas to store weapons and recruit children who attend school there. Teaching materials, including textbooks and curricula, are often full of anti-Israel bias and promote the Jewish state’s destruction.
These issues are prevalent even with the new tranche of U.S. funding, according to the State Department report.
“Inspections uncovered violations of UNRWA’s neutrality policies,” the report concluded. “These included inappropriate slogans, graffiti, or other imagery inside or outside of UNRWA facilities.”
Nearly 300 security-related incidents took place, including, “armed incursions,” though the report does not name the offenders.
This “included armed incursions and incidents,” as well as the “unauthorized use of UNRWA installations, such as armed, non-UNRWA personnel attempting to distribute supplies to civilians on UNRWA grounds.” The report also identified “the use of weapons in or near facilities.”
Two UNRWA schools also were found to contain underground tunnels, a tactic used by Hamas and other terrorist groups to transport weapons and soldiers. UNRWA facilities often serve as a base for these groups because they know Israeli forces will not target schools in their military operations.
Officials “found a cavity or tunnel under two of its schools in Gaza following airstrikes during the May 2021 violence” between Israel and Hamas, according to the report. Both sites “were filled with cement after their discovery.”
In at least 16 instances, UNRWA staff or personnel were accused of neutrality violations. In 10 of these cases “UNRWA staff incited violence on social media,” leading the organization to take “disciplinary measures” in early 2022.
“Of the remaining six allegations,” the report notes, “three concern public statements, one concerned a post on social media, one case was related to outside activities, and one case alleged a staff member conducted military service while also employed by UNRWA. These cases remain under investigation.”
A State Department spokesman would not discuss the report’s findings, saying, “as a general matter, we do not comment on communications with Congress.”